THE PROCESS - SCANNING FILM NEGATIVES (NIKON COOLSCAN vs EPSON V750 Pro)

Scanning is a very fundamental part of the hybrid ( analog/digital ) photographic process. For years I have been scanning my 35mm, MF and LF film negatives by using an EPSON PERFECTION V750 PRO scanner. 

In the last months, especially after having the ability to develop myself C-41 Color Films by using a JOBO CPE2 Plus rotation machine, I started shooting a lot more with my 35mm cameras. As a consequence, I started to think about ways to improve the quality of my scans ( prints ) and optimize my whole digitalization process. I am still working very much and with huge enthusiasm with analog photographic methods and as I mention digitalization is a necessity, but I also realized that digitalizaton of analog content is not a quick and automatic switch but a long long adventure of trials and errors! 



Actually, I was quite happy with the results of my EPSON V750, both on the screen and the prints. With 35mm film I could easily make small prints up to 30x20cm with good or reasonable quality. 

But now I am the owner of a NIKON COOLSCAN V ED ( LS-50 )  scanner. The scanner is in a near mind condition and very clean. It is a dedicated 35mm film and dias scanner with an effective resolution of 4000 dpi ( in comparison the EPSON V750 is about 2400 dpi ). The difference in the resolution is immediately visible in the scans (in the EPSON scans you have the impression that a kind of haze or the unsharp filter was held in front of you, see some comparison images below  ... ) 


NIKON COOLSCAN V ED vs EPSON PERFECTION V750 Pro 


my digital darkroom 

The NIKON COOLSCAN V ED



Some first comparisons between the NIKON COOLSCAN V ED ( LS-50) and the EPSON PERFECTION V750 PRO. In both cases, I use SilverFast scanning software. (Left NIKON COOLSCAN, Right EPSON V750 )

The difference in the sharpness between the COOLSCAN V ED and the EPSON V750 Pro is immediately visible in all scans color or BW but the noise and dirt/scratch levels are also accentuated. The software to be used is also of very critical importance for the whole process of digitalization of film negatives. For my experiments I have used SilverFast Ai 8.8 and NIKON SCAN 4.0.3 on a windows 10 64bit system. 

The first results of color film negatives with the COOLSCAN V ED and SilverFast Ai 8.8 are rather or completely disappointing! Nothing looks natural, pleasant, smooth ... the color images are harsh, ugly full of noise and unnatural color casts ... In both cases, I use the SilverFast Ai software with built-in film profiles. I can depress noise by using the GANE ( Grain and Noise Reduction ) option, I have tried USM, manual focus, manual color correction etc. but I still could not obtain a natural smooth pleasing aesthetic.  

... but after some days of trials and experimentations, my conclusion is that with COLOR FILM the Nikon COOLSCAN V ED with the native NIKON SCAN 4.0.3 software produces better results than the EPSON V750 PRO. With B&W FILM the contrary is the case! Read my story so far but maybe I should dig deeper ... 

NIKON COOLSCAN V ED better than EPSON V750 PRO for COLOR FILM

NIKON SCAN 4.03 vs SilverFast Ai 8.8  - After some unsuccessful trials, fails, and disappointments I switched from SilverFast to the original Nikon Scan version 4.03 software. I run it directly to a windows 10 64bit system with no problems.  Almost immediately I fall in love with the software. It was much easier to obtain visually pleasant results very quickly! But don't take me wrong ist still a long way to go!  


In the following, I present my experiences and results in two categories:
  • scanning B&W film
  • scanning COLOR film 

SCANNING B&W FILM EPSON V750 PRO VS NIKON COOLSCAN V ED


WHAT I AM DOING WRONG?
NIKON COOLSCAN V ED vs EPSON V750 PRO comparison


The EPSON V750 scan (right) looks much better than the NIKON COOLSCAN one (left)! Most probably I am doing something wrong ... 

I have done more experiments and I am inclined to believe that for B&W film the EPSON V750 is a better solution. The results are much smoother and the better resolution of the COOLSCAN at the end it is not a real plus. The highly collimated light source of the COOLSCAN V ED will outline every dust particle and surface defect. Unless you are meticulous about cleanliness, it's a royal PITA to spot all this stuff out. The grain is also enhanced/aliasing, which may be good or bad depending on what someone likes.


BLACK and WHITE SCANS ( AGFA APX100 )

(I scanned the images with the COOLSCAN V ED at 4000dpi and with the EPSON V750 at 3200 dpi. That's why they are COOLSCAN images are slightly bigger ... )



BW SCANS comparison COOLSCAN V ED / EPSON V750



SCANNING COLOR FILM EPSON V750 PRO VS NIKON COOLSCAN V ED

NIKON SCAN 4.03 vs SilverFast Ai 8.8 

After some unsuccessful trials, fails and disappointments I switched from SilverFast to the original Nikon Scan version 4.03 software. I run it directly to a windows 10 64bit system with no problems.  Almost immediately I fall in love with the software. It was much easier to obtain visually pleasant results very quickly! But don't take me wrong ist still a long way to go!  


URBANSCAPES ( BERLIN 2020 Nikon FM2, Kodak Portra 400VC)
Coolscan V ED

Epson V750 Pro


COOLSCAN V ED (left) / EPSON V750 (right)


COOLSCAN V ED (left) / EPSON V750 (right)

Coolscan V ED, Kodak Portra400VC

Epson V750 Pro, Kodak Portra400VC
COOLSCAN V ED (left) / EPSON V750 (right)



MYKONOS 2019 ( Nikon FM2, Kodak Portra400)


NIKON COOLSCAN V ED left / EPSON V750 PRO right 


NIKON COOLSCAN V ED


EPSON V750 PRO 





OLD EXPERIMENTS using SilverFast Ai 8.8. 


I was not able to obtain any good results with the NIKON COOLSCAN and I switched to the native NIKON SCAN 4.03 software. 

ATHENS 2019 / COLOR SCANS ( Kodak Portra 400VC )

color film scans comparison
COLOR SCANS comparison COOLSCAN V ED / EPSON V750


COOLSCAN V ED ( Nikon FM2 Kodak Portra 400VC )

EPSON V750 PRO ( Nikon FM2 Kodak Portra 400VC )




COLOR SCANS comparison COOLSCAN V ED / EPSON V750


ATHENS 2019 ( Nikon FM2 Kodak Portra 400VC )



MYKONOS 2019 ( NIKON FM2 KODAK PORTRA 400VC )


COLOR SCANS comparison COOLSCAN V ED / EPSON V750


COOLSCAN V ED 

EPSON V750 scan / Nikon FM2 Kodak Portra
EPSON V750 PRO


MYKONOS 2019 ( Nikon FM2 Kodak Portra 400VC )



COLOR SCANS comparison COOLSCAN V ED / EPSON V750


COOLSCAN V ED ( Nikon FM2 Kodak Portra 400VC )

EPSON V750 ( Nikon FM2 Kodak Portra 400VC )
 
I will keep the experiments going and soon I would post some new results ...  

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